Skip to main content

Buildabearville: Club Penguin has a rival

My kids have abandoned Club Penguin for a new child friendly MMO called Buildabearville.

Bearville has a lot in common with Club penguin. Kids can create avatars, dress them up, interact with their online friends and play mini-games. Just like Club Penguin you can join for free but in order to access everything you have to spend some real money. In Club Penguin that means paying for a monthly subscription but in Bearville all you need to do is purchase a bear from the Build a Bear Workshop. Given that just about every child under 10 in the western world already has several of these build it yourself bears that makes a pretty big potential market for Bearville.

The really big news though is that in the opinion of my resident child experts Bearville is better than Club Penguin. It looks better and seems to offer more things to do. Player housing and items are a big feature of this type of game and Bearville stuff just seems better and more desirable than Penguin's. Unlike Penguin, Bearville allows players to trade with each other opening up rich possibilities in terms of game economy. Bearville has only been around a few months and is still in beta but it has a lot of content and seems very stable and polished.

Can Bearville's buy once play forever revenue model compete with Club Penguins subscription based model in the long run? Hard to say, but it is unlikely that Build A bear's revenue stream from selling bears is going to dry up any time soon. Also the vast majority of Club Penguin players don't pay a subscription (but 700,000 of them do according to Wikipedia). A previous mmo / toy tie in called Bratz Miuchiz turned out to be a dismal buggy mess but Bearville is much much better.

From my own brief exploration I would say that Bearville has one Achille's heel. A few of the mini games are downright hard. I struggled with a soccer game and a diving game. This is an area that Club Penguin does brilliantly. Club Penguin's mini games are easy enough to be picked up in seconds but addictive enough to keep you playing for hours. If Bearville doesn't get that magical balance right they are going to first frustrate and then lose their young customers.

I would say that Walt Disney's €350m investment in Club Penguin is looking a little dubious at present. Disney haven't done much with the game since they bought it and it looks very tired in comparison to Bearville.

By the way if you know a child who has an older Build a Bear bear, they can retrospectively register it for access to Bearville. This is a time limited offer however so I suggest you encourage them to do it soon.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Portal 2 two screen coop on one PC.

I mentioned before that I intended to try Portal 2 in "unofficial split screen co-op mode. Well split screen on a small computer monitor is a recipe for a headache especially when the game defies gravity as much as portal. However a minor bit of extra fiddling allowed us to drive two seperate screens from one PC. The Steam forums describes a complicated method of doing this that I couldn't get working so this simpler method which worked for me might be of use to someone. 1. First I followed the instructions in this post to get split screen multi-player working: http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1847904 A minor issue not mentioned is that you need to enable the console from the keyboard/mouse options menu I am using keyboard and one wired Xbox360 controller as suggested. Getting the controller to switch to channel 2 was tricky at first but as Chameleon8 mentions plugging it out and in again during loading works. The trick for me was to do the plug / p

Android Tip 3: Sharing a Folder between multiple users of an Android device

Android has allowed multiple user logins for quite a while now. This is can be very useful for tablets which are shared by family members. Normally Android erects strict Chinese walls between users preventing them from using each others apps and viewing each others files. This is a useful security feature and ensures your kids don't mess up your work spreadsheets when screwing around on the tablet and should also prevent them from buying €1,000 worth of Clash of Candy coins on your account. Sometimes however you really do want to share stuff with other users and this can prove surprisingly difficult. For example on a recent holiday I realised that I wanted to share a folder full of travel documents with my wife. Here are some ways to achieve this. 1. If you have guaranteed internet access  then you can create a shared folder on either Dropbox or Google drive. Either of these has the great advantage of being able to access the files on any device and the great disadvantage of bein

Lotro: The Forgotten Treasury

Throg joined a Kinship group for the Forgotten Treasury instance last night. It was an enjoyable change from the solo questing that the now level 55 dwarf champion has been mostly doing so far in Moria. Some members of the group had tried and failed to clear the Treasury before so we knew it would be challenging but we were lucky enough to have a well balanced group with Guardian, Minstrel, Lore Master, Hunter, Burglar and Champion (Throg). Throg (level 55) and the minstrel (53) were both below the 56ish level of the instance but the others were all higher so it more or less balanced out. [SPOILERs ahead] It is a well designed enjoyable instance set in a circular chamber with balcony around. As you enter, a boss absconds to a locked side chamber with his treasure leaving the fellowship to clear trash ringed around the balcony. Once the trash are cleared you have access to a puzzle which must be solved in order to open the locked door. Clearing the (including six mini bosses) also